CARSON CITY — NV Energy on Thursday asked state utility regulators to reconsider a decision that restored more favorable net metering rates for up to 1,250 future residential rooftop solar customers in Northern Nevada.
The company said the decision last month by the Public Utilities Commission took energy savings that were supposed to be shared by many of its Sierra Pacific customers and instead directed it to the limited number of new rooftop solar customers.
The decision in the Sierra Pacific case is considered important for Nevada Power customers, who could see similar action by the PUC in a future rate case for the utility’s Southern Nevada territory. NV Energy operates as Nevada Power in the Las Vegas area.
The PUC order established rates for a three-year period beginning Jan. 1, 2017 for NV Energy’s Northern Nevada customers.
In October 2016, NV Energy said it worked with a broad coalition of customers and participants in the rate case to lower annual electricity rates for residential and small general service customers by approximately $2.92 million annually, or a total of $8.77 million over the three-year period. The agreement provided that these cost savings would be shared across a broad base of Northern Nevada electric customers.
But NV Energy argues in its rehearing request that the December order directed the savings to a limited number of customers who install rooftop solar systems and get a retail rate credit from the utility for the excess electricity the systems generate.
The PUC has 40 days to act on the NV Energy request.
Rooftop solar groups hailed this element of the PUC decision as the beginning of a modest comeback for the rooftop solar industry in Nevada. The industry came to a halt one year ago when the PUC adopted new, less favorable rates for rooftop solar customers statewide. The PUC later grandfathered in existing systems, but the industry has effectively shut down in Nevada for new customers.
Jon Wellinghoff, former consumer advocate for Nevada and current SolarCity chief policy officer, commended the PUC for the decision saying the benefits of rooftop solar generation outweigh the costs.
Contact Sean Whaley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 775-461-3820. Follow @seanw801 on Twitter.